Welcome to the Post Hunt’s ninth year, the year in which, finally, THE ANSWER TO EACH PUZZLE IS NOT ALWAYS A NUMBER, and it is much wiser to compete alone instead of as part of a team, and if it rains we just shut the darned thing down, and, above all, the year there will be no references to toilets, or sex, or anything that does not, in the words of Eugene Meyer, founder of the modern Washington Post, “observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.”
Nah. This will be just another cheesy Hunt, with all the customary rules and rudenesses and shibboleths, a word we are pretty sure we are using incorrectly. As always, we will now explain the event by conducting a bogus interview of ourselves, where we write both the questions and the answers, as though we were unaware that 90 percent of you are Hunt recidivists (also shibboleths) and know just about everything we are going to say. You could probably write this yourselves.
Q: Could we? Really?
A: Yes, “you” could, inasmuch as “you” are really “us,” Los Tres Amigos, the beloved if tragically geriatric creators of the Hunt.
Q: You know, if you gave up this lame format, you could be in and out of this in 12 column inches, tops.
A: We are paid by the word.
Q: So what is the very, very, incredibly, unbelievably, stupendously, homunculously wonderful Post Hunt?
A: The Post Hunt is a gigantic, cerebral puzzle that spools out between noon and roughly 4 p.m. Sunday, May 22 , in federal Washington. Everyone reading this is invited. It is free. You will spend a wild afternoon running around trying to untangle five diabolical, large-scale puzzles inserted into the urban landscape. After preliminary announcements beginning 15 minutes before noon, the Hunt kicks off with an opening clue at noon sharp from the Hunt Main Stage, which this year is not where it usually is.
Q: A new Main Stage venue! For real?
A: Yes. Instead of being outdoors, where we had to cope with heat, rain and ambient street noise, it will be inside Halls D and E of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center , where we will be coping with the fact that the hall has roughly the same dimensions as Canada. It’s enormous. Many of you will never find the Main Stage and might wander off and die. Good news, though: There are bathrooms! With working plumbing! The convention center is at 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW, just two blocks from the Mount Vernon Square Metro stop. Anyway, at noon Los Tres Amigos (Hunt impresarios Dave Barry, Tom Shroder and Gene Weingarten) will make an announcement. ...
Q: Wait, you forgot to tell us about the Opening Questions. You’ve always told us about them by now!
A: Oh, right. We are a year older (combined age 195), and it’s harder to keep stuff in the noggin. Yes, before noon you will have answered the five Opening Questions, which are contained on Page 21. (For the print-challenged, the Opening Questions and the Clues published at 6 a.m. Saturday at washingtonpost.com/posthunt.) Combined with the announcement we will make at noon from the Main Stage, you will then know the map coordinates of the locations of the five Big Puzzles. You and your team can visit them in any order you wish. You will try to use the answers, along with a final clue given from the Main Stage at 3 p.m., to solve an even more twisted and demonic final puzzle we call the EndGame. First prize is two grand. The second team to solve the final puzzle will earn $500. For the second year in a row, we will have an additional prize: The first team to correctly solve all five puzzles, and email a brief description of each puzzle and its solution to firstname.lastname@example.org , wins $500. More on this below, if we remember.
Q: What if we can’t figure out the correct answers to the Opening Questions?
A:Insect larvae could figure out the correct answers to the Opening Questions.
Q: How many people do you need for a team?
A: We like to say four is the optimum number. We like to say it, even though we have no reason to believe it is true. Teams can be any size. All we know from our eons of experience is that using multiple brains on these puzzles is usually a big plus. Just keep in mind that the prize money will be split among all team members.
Q: What if I am a pathetic loser, have no friends, and my family has moved without leaving a forwarding address?
A: Harsh! The good news is that we aren’t here to judge you (snicker!). Instead, we offer you this: There will be a meet-up table inside Hall D at the convention center. Arrive by 11:30 Hunt morning and either put your email address or texting contact on the sign-up sheet, or contact one of the people who already has.
Q: What else do we need?
A: First of all, you’ll need THIS MAGAZINE. Or if you are reading this online, you will need to pick up a print copy of The Washington Post Magazine (a limited number will be available at the Hunt on a first-come basis). As always, the magazine is filled with essential Hunt items, including the Opening Questions, ( Page 21 ), the Hunt Map ( Pages 24-25 ) and the official list of possible Hunt Clues ( Page 23 ). It never hurts to familiarize yourself with other parts of the magazine, too, and sometimes it helps a lot. Second, your team will need at least one SMARTPHONE WITH INTERNET CONNECTION AND OTHER COMMON TELEPHONE MODERNITIES, INCLUDING GPS. Also, at least one team member must have a TWITTER ACCOUNT. We will be issuing Hunt updates on the @POSTHUNT Twitter handle throughout the Hunt. If we need to give a hint, or alert Hunters to something important before 3 p.m., that is where we will do it.
Q: Does the Hunt go on rain or shine?
A: Yep. Though the Main Stage is indoors, most of the Hunt is not. If the forecast is bad, bring rain gear. If it is not, bring sunscreen.
Q: Where will I find the Big Puzzles?
They’re all within walking distance of the convention center and easy to locate using the Hunt Map. The puzzle locations we give you may just be starting points. In one or more of the puzzles, you may have to use the information you get at the initial site to figure out where else you must go to solve the puzzle. The following is important, and it is the first time we are explicitly promising this, so listen up: To solve the Hunt, or any puzzle in the Hunt, you will not have to visit any location more than 10 blocks from the Convention Center. The Big Puzzles will be clearly visible; you’ll know them when you see them. You will not have to go into any buildings (other than the convention center) to solve a puzzle, or to solve the EndGame.
Q: How will I know if I have solved a puzzle?
A: We’ve designed the puzzles so that when you solve one, it’s an “aha!” moment, and you’ll have a strong sense that you are right. If you can’t solve a puzzle in a reasonable time — say, 15 or 20 minutes — go on to the next. You can return after you’ve visited the other puzzles. You’ll have until 10 minutes to 3 to visit all the puzzle sites. The most important thing to know about solving Hunt puzzles is this: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS A NUMBER. Study the puzzle until you think you’ve figured out what that number is. Then go to the Clue Page — the numbered list of clues on Page 23. If the number you guessed doesn’t match the number of one of the clues on that list, your guess is wrong. If it does match, it may still be wrong, but your chances are a lot better. Only five of the clues on the Clue Page are genuine. The rest are decoys.
Q: Okay, I get five numbers from solving all five of the Big Puzzles, then I match those numbers to five numbered clues on the Clue Page. What can I do with the five clues?
A: They’ll be intriguing but may not be fully meaningful until you get the 3 p.m. clue. If you’ve worked fast, though, your team might win the special prize mentioned above. The first team to correctly solve all five puzzles, and email a brief description of each puzzle and its solution to email@example.com , wins $500. The winner of this prize will be announced when we announce the first- and second-place winners of the EndGame.
Q: What things will we have to do to win?
A: We’re not saying. Each Hunt is different. In the past, it involved things like making a phone call to a secret number, delivering a code word to an actor impersonating a street person or dropping a ping-pong ball into a little hole. We try to keep you guessing, but when you solve the EndGame, you’ll know it. Whether you figure out the EndGame or not, make sure that at least one person on your team is watching the stage at 3:30. At that point, we will either announce the winners and reveal the solutions to all the puzzles, or, if we think it is necessary, we will announce additional hints. The Hunt continues until we have winners. If you know you are hopelessly befuddled, then hang around the stage listening to the canned music and waiting for Dave, Tom and Gene to explain the answers while everyone boos.
Q: I find that even when I take powerful sedatives, I am unable to sleep.
A: Then you will want to read the Official Hunt Rules, which were generated by lawyers and are online at washingtonpost.com/posthunt. They are roughly the length of the Treaty of Ghent, but less riveting.
Q: Anything you couldn’t think of a good question for?
A: Yes. Make sure you periodically check the @posthunt Twitter feed to see if we have issued any updates or hints. Also, you’ll see many “sponsored by” logos from our wonderful sponsors around the Hunt, and on the map, but as usual, no clues are hidden in the sponsor logos. If you have any questions (other than “What’s the answer?”), knowledgeable and courteous Hunt staff members wearing staff T-shirts will be around to help you. Now we’re done.
Q: Will the Treaty of Ghent be in any way involved?
A: Let’s just say you might want to familiarize yourself with it..
Earlier versions of this story gave the wrong convention center hall for the Main Stage. The stage will be in Halls D and E. Also, the meetup table is now inside Hall D. This version has been corrected.
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